John Walker, head of Cold-War-era Soviet spy ring, dies in prison

John Anthony WalkerBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
A retired United States Navy sailor, who led one of the most prolific Soviet spy rings in America during the Cold War, and made over $2 million in the process, has died in prison, where he had been serving a life sentence. John Anthony Walker, Jr., retired from the US Navy in 1976 as a Warrant Officer, having previously served as a radio operator and technical communications expert. He held a top-secret clearance for most of his Navy career. In 1967, Walker had walked into the Soviet embassy in Washington, DC, and had given Soviet officials a few US military codes as samples. The exchange sparked a cooperation that lasted 17 years, as the Soviets initially placed Walker on a $1,000-a-week salary, promising to upgrade his income if he delivered more classified material. Eventually, Walker recruited his older brother, Arthur Walker, a US Navy lieutenant commander, who had left the Navy and was working for a US military contractor. He also recruited his oldest son, Michael, who was a US Navy seaman aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and was able to clandestinely photograph classified documents he found on the ship. Walker also recruited one of his best friends, Jerry Whitworth, whom he had befriended when Whitworth was a student. He convinced the impressionable young man to enlist in the US Navy for the purpose of providing the spy ring with classified information. Whitworth eventually became a chief radioman for the Navy. The spy ring Walker set up conducted espionage on an industrial scale, providing the USSR with classified information for nearly two decades. The stolen information, which included the daily code configurations for several encryption devices used by the US Navy, allowed Moscow to decode over a million US navy messages. The breach perpetrated by the Walker spy ring is considered among the largest in American military history. Vitaly Yurchenko, a high-ranking officer in the Soviet KGB, once described the Walker spy ring as “the greatest case in Soviet intelligence history”. But the ring was busted in May of 1985 following an extensive counterintelligence operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Read more of this post

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Comment: Defector’s Wish to Return to Iran Not Unusual

Shahram Amiri

Shahram Amiri

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
This website has covered extensively the case of Dr. Shahram Amiri, a scientific researcher employed in Iran’s nuclear program, who disappeared during a religious pilgrimage to Mecca in May or June of 2009. Tehran maintains that Dr. Amiri was abducted by CIA agents. However, most intelligence observers, including this writer, believe that the Iranian researcher willfully defected to the West, following a long, carefully planned intelligence operation involving the CIA, as well as French and German intelligence agencies.

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Writings by CIA defector Edward Lee Howard published

Edward Lee Howard

E.L. Howard

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
An extensive article on spy tradecraft, written by CIA case officer Edward Lee Howard, after he defected to the Soviet Union in 1985, has been published for the first time. Howard, the only intelligence agent known to have been trained by both the CIA and the Soviet KGB, joined the CIA in 1980, but began collaborating with the KGB in 1983, after the CIA fired him for repeatedly failing to pass a polygraph test. After he was exposed by Vitaly Yurchenko, a KGB officer who allegedly defected to the US in Rome, Italy, Howard employed his CIA training to evade FBI counterintelligence agents and escape to Russia, where he lived until his death in 2002. In the early 1990s, the FBI tried to lure Howard to capture, using, among others, Bureau counterintelligence agent Robert Eringer. Eringer befriended Howard and, as part of the luring operation, commissioned the former CIA agent to write a book entitled Spy’s Guide to Central Europe. Read more of this post